a painfully funny story

bridge gray gap - December 11, 2014m

Religion inevitably splits.
                — Huston Smith

A succinct and painfully accurate quote from one of our leading religious scholars…

…reminds me of this story:

While walking along a bridge at night…

…a man suddenly spies another man preparing to jump to his death.

Being a devout Christian, he believes he must have been sent to this bridge to save this man’s life…

Slowly, cautiously, he approaches the man and begins to talk.

The suicidal man tells him how his life has fallen apart.  He’s lost everything—his job, his home, his family  He sees no reason to go on living.

The Christian tells him how belief in Christ can conquer all misfortune.

From his perch at the edge of the bridge, the man says he’s already a Christian.

“Oh, what faith do you belong to?

“I’m a Protestant.”

“So am I.  What church do you belong to?”

“I’m a Methodist.”

“Well, so am I.  Which denomination do you belong to?”

“I’m with the Methodist Episcopal Church.”

“Well, that’s just amazing!  So am I.  But which division do you belong to?  Are you part of the Methodist Episcopal Church Northern Group or the Methodist Episcopal Church Southern Group?”

The suicidal man is now ready to step down from his perch.  He believes he’s found a kindred spirit.  “I’m with the Northern Group,” he says happily.

The other man gives him a shove, sending him off the bridge.  “Die, you Northern Heathen!”

Ironically, this story came to me via a woman of strong Christian belief…

…some might say “strident Christian belief”.

But a strident person would not have found humor in the foibles of her chosen belief system…

….nor acknowledged the potential danger of her choice.

(The woman’s source for this story was a TV comedian.  The broadcast was years ago, so I don’t know his name.  I like to give credit where credit is due, but this time I can’t.)

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the book


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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